Siege Campaign

Epilogue: Quinn

From a message from Admiral Tiberius of the 7th Imperial fleet to General Quinn, leader of Imperial operations on Shadow; intercepted by Anthony Biggs, communications officer for the Army of the Alliance.

Quinn,

I’ve just finished reading your report, and I’m sorry to hear of your defeat at New Sandrith. While the operation was more intended to test the strength and response time of the new dragonborn government than to actually take Shadow, I had held out some hope for your success. I also regret that this is the first you’ve heard of your mission’s true purpose, though you may have already guessed it. When the Empire finally sets its sights on Shadow, we will bring far more than five whale ships and a few hundred men.

You performed your task admirably and cut your losses at an appropriate time. Your negotiation for the return of your imprisoned soldiers was well done, and the reported losses looked acceptable to me. While Engin and Ortwin will be sorely missed, we always knew that not everyone would return from this venture.

Caelius, however, is a thorn removed from the 7th fleet’s side. Though your report indicated that you had no prior knowledge of his suicidal and unsupported surprise attack on New Sandrith’s watchtower fortress, the end result was not at all regrettable. Despite his rank among us, he was a liability to the Empire, and one that I thought had been dealt with previously.

Most interesting was your report regarding the support the dragonborn received from the Platinum Knights. While we knew of their involvement in taking the planet from the Cult of Setesh, we had not anticipated so many having remained on-world. It is not common to see five of them working together outside of a major military action. Perhaps we underestimate their dedication to the continued independence of the dragonborn people.

To answer the question you asked in the personal letter attached to your report, no, I did not know of the spies in New Sandrith. Engin must have arranged for those on his own, and none of his reports more than vaguely allude to the man you saw standing on the bridge or the other operative responsible for the theft of our golem. As both disappeared along with the mechanical monstrosity, I have cause to wonder what their true motivations were. More information than that was taken with Engin to his grave.

Finally, I must admit my failure to inform you of the changing loyalties of the Blue Shield mercenaries. We had no knowledge that one of their teams had been dispatched to aid the defense of New Sandrith. I know you would rather fight an honourable battle in which everyone’s loyalties are known to his enemies, but I do not regret the circumstances of their defection. My only regret is their lack of success. Those that survive must now be bargained for with the Emperor’s coin, and I don’t doubt that the dragonborn will ask a heavy price.

Return with all haste to the 7th. Shadow can wait for another day, and rest assured that it will fall into Imperial hands in good time. But for now, the Emperor has another objective for us, and we have received the transfer of a number of seasoned soldiers to replace those lost on Shadow. We must continue our work of unification for the betterment of the spheres. Long live the Emperor!

Biggs’s note: Admiral Tiberius’s claim that he had no knowledge of traitors within New Sandrith is at odds with intercepted missives from him to Engin, an Imperial commander who met his end on Shadow. Their correspondence indicates that the traitor John Kyton had been promised a plot of land on Shadow if he aided Imperial forces in the taking of the city. As for other saboteurs, a young woman representing a spellfilching guild associated with the Greater Elven Consortium was contracted to awaken and instruct the warforged titan employed by the Empire during the siege of New Sandrith. Other intelligence suggests that this young woman was being compelled against her will in some way, though her motivations are now inconsequential. Allusions to another traitor placed on the Ruling Council of New Sandrith were also made, though the specific person is never mentioned by name.

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Epilogue: Elspeth

From the journal of Elspeth, Deputy Mayor of New Sandrith

We have succeeded. Our forces accomplished what I thought, only ten days ago, would have been impossible. The Imperial lines retreated, their blockade has fled the docks, and we have prevailed. Truly, Bahamut blesses this planet and its most culturally important settlement.

It has not been without sacrifice, though. Many of our fighting men lie dead or severely wounded. Atiratu’s Mendicants are doing what they can, but even they can only heal so many. The temple of Pelor has also opened its gates and now acts as a combat hospital. It seems they were preparing the temple in this way before the fighting even began. I have only now learned that not one of their priests or acolytes evacuated the city ahead of the siege. Their determination to prove the merits of the god of humans to a people enslaved by that same race is admirable. Not that our own priests comported themselves otherwise — indeed, under Esili’s guidance, it was the priests of Bahamut and their prayers and admonitions that gave our outnumbered archers at the main gate the strength to withstand the Imperial army long enough for us to employ our melee units.

For my part, I sat with Mayor Darvil and Elion Wyrmfang in the council room and heard news of the battle from runners. When we learned that the south gate would be overrun, he and I went personally to see what might be done. Our travel was in vain, however, as Oswin had heroically placed himself in the center of the broken gate, and no Imperial soldier could move him. I’m told he fought with the strength of any dozen dragonborn, though I imagine it had something to do with the magekillers stationed overhead raining arrows on his opponents before they could close with him and his forces. The Strength spell I cast on him as I arrived may also have contributed to his now-legendary prowess.

Though I was not present, I’m told our northern forces experienced a similar miracle. Though their gates were destroyed by catapult, a member of my defense council flew from the walltop to attack their commander and separate him from his men. Though she was nearly slain in the process, we owe a debt to the courage of the Platinum Knight Sammiah. It seems the gnomish commander was eventually slain by a ballista bolt, though. Some report that it was the drow lord Caerwyn who delivered the final blow, though others say he was too busy slaughtering Imperial soldiers and shining with the blood of his enemies atop the walls to have fired the ballista. The most reliable witnesses seem to think that he never drew a blade throughout the battle.

The majority of our forces were centered around the main gate and bolstered by Esili’s coterie of priests. Their commander, perhaps more zealous than wise, committed their archers to the undefended front ranks, and our swiftest units took advantage of their lack of protection. The archers broke and ran, many leaving their bows or quivers where they had stood. Some later reported that our advancing line of swordsmen appeared to them to be a shining silver dragon rushing down on them. Their commander, brave but inexperienced, stepped forward in person to defend his retreating archers and was soon struck down by Naya. With their commander felled, their mages spent, their archers broken and a giant standing on the wall mocking them, the Imperial troops at the main gate fled. While such a victory was more than we could have hoped for, it appears the city will be paying for it with at least a shrine (if not a temple) to Hachiman near that gate. A small price, I suppose.

Now we begin the work of rebuilding. The city didn’t sustain much damage, though almost all of our gates will need to be repaired or replaced. The bridge at Aluren’s Crossing will have to be rebuilt, and I do not look forward to the complaints from residents of that settlement when they have had enough time to realize what has been done and make their way to New Sandrith. I’ve also petitioned the Platinum Knights for a cadre of evocation specialists to aid in bringing magic to the dragonborn people. Though faith magic has come quickly to them, the more academic arcane arts are still a very foreign concept to a people that have only recently begun to read and write. But without the ability to cast arcane spells, we will again have to rely on the aid of others when the Empire’s eye turns our way again.

And rest assured that it will. A fertile planet within the domain of the Empire will not long remain unmolested. The best we can do is defend ourselves well enough that we prove more costly to conquer than beneficial to rule. We’ve bought ourselves time, but we must use that time wisely. There is much to be done.

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Day 9 - From Saamiyah's Journal

Betrayal. So this is what it feels like to lose a friend. I trusted that demon, though others warned against it. I thought to myself, “How can I judge him for his appearance when I have so often felt the sting of judgment from others?” How ironic is it that the one who so greatly warning me against trusting a demon was in fact a demon herself? Still, I suppose I should have listened. I do not have many friends. In fact, Hadi is my only true friend it seems. But I was starting to think of John, Esili, and Friday as my friends. After my talk with Naya, I had come to like her as well. I should have known better. An outcast like me can’t have friends. My own mother shipped me off. After John turned on me (and, I might add, turned quite brutally) all I felt was fire in my gut. I blamed that witch at first; turning all of my anger against her. But once they were gone, I was able to realize that John had probably always been against us. At least I was able to pull Esili from that void, and Friday as well. Once I was sure the fighting was over, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I hurt everywhere but most of all it hurt that I couldn’t ask John why. Hadi heard me and came to take me back to the city. It was selfish of me not to make sure the others made it back safely, but I couldn’t stand them seeing me cry. I told Hadi to take me back to our rooms, that we were leaving immediately, but that stubborn ass told me I had to at least get some healing before he would take me anywhere, and I was in no condition to fly back. That’s where I am now, at the Lady Tree. Some priests have done what they can for my physical ailments. Funny, I never paid attention to the music before. It’s actually quite nice.

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The Deep Breath Before the Plunge
Day 9

From the Journal of Elion Wyrmfang

My forces spent the day in tense readiness. While a small detachment of Imperial soldiers went north toward what was once the lumberjack camp, the remainder seemed to be resting from their march to New Sandrith. Only a few stood sentry throughout the day, indicating to me that they do not fear a preemptive attack on our part. I fear now more than ever that they have a reasonably accurate assessment of our somewhat scant forces. Given the apparent betrayal of General Charak, it’s not hard to imagine how they obtained such a clear picture.

I have been suspicious of treachery almost since I arrived here. The followers of Tiamat were an obvious choice to help the Imperial forces from within the walls, but the nature of our failures indicates to me that we have a leak much closer to the Defense Council. Captain Iver’s loyalties were brought into question, and while the unholy symbol of Hextor found in his possession will cast him in a suspicious light in the eyes of many, I feel his murder may exonerate him. More than we know has transpired around Iver, but that is a matter for Themis to investigate after the siege has been repelled.

If the siege is repelled, that is. While we’ve dealt the Empire a few minor blows, we’ve mostly just been fighting to not lose the city before they even breach the walls. Much of the population has already evacuated, either off-world or to Shadow Proper. With so few able-bodied fighters available and so little morale among the populace, we were always fighting an uphill battle. I wonder if my efforts would not have been better spent elsewhere.

I await word from our forces in the field attempting to neutralize the Imperial golem. Reports from the wall say that the golem disappeared shortly after our forces departed, and neither sight nor sound can be detected from that area now, even with the aid of darkvision. My hope is that they were so wildly successful as to have stolen or destroyed the golem with that little commotion, but I fear something less decisive is more likely.

We can reasonably expect an Imperial attack tomorrow morning. If they cannot invade the city and close the port by nightfall, then we’ve as good as won when our reinforcements from Shadow Proper arrive. If we’re given enough time tomorrow, then I’ll introduce Elspeth‘s forces to Iver’s Magekillers, as Iver won’t be making use of them now. I’m proud of the team that Elspeth and I assembled, and I feel that they would be capable of overcoming almost any challenge. It remains to be seen if this is the exception.

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A Brief Interruption

I was sitting at this very table enjoying some tea when it happened. I had thought to spend a quiet evening in reading and contemplation, studying further the nature of the devils that sought to invade my beloved homeland two years ago and continue to crop up in its hinterlands from time to time. But it was not to be.

Hachiman appeared to me, just as he did years ago. As he did last time, he spoke not a word nor made any sound, but merely used his legendary katana to rend the very fabric of reality, opening a rift from my study to a moist, torchlit chamber somewhere. The air drifting from that passage had a very different feel to it, even from other basements and dungeons I’ve traversed. Though I did not think about it at the time (a tendency of mine that has been well documented), I am now convinced that I was journeying to another world, perhaps not even on the same plane as mine.

I buckled on what I could of my armour in as much haste as I could manage and took up my two swords: Kagenui, my family’s sacred hereditary sword now blessed with its own limited kami, and the divine katana blessed by Amaterasu that found its way into my possession in a time of great need. Wielding the favour of both of my patrons, I stepped into the rift.

And stepped out into a nightmare. The chamber contained several bearded devils — the shock troops of Hell itself — being led by a hulking creature that bore a small resemblance to the spawn of ogres and men, though that description is only the closest think I know to which I may liken him. Doing battle against them were a man covered in chains (who I knew immediately to be mortally wounded), a northern man who took great pains to avoid the devils and an Ipponese woman who I could mistake for no other than my friend Zane, though it appeared that, as I have come to expect, more time had passed for her than for me since our previous meeting.

Knowing that I was being granted yet another chance to purge fiendish influence, I threw myself into the fray. The man with chain armour would clearly not benefit from medical aid, so I pragmatically left him to his wounds and focused first and exclusively on the bearded devils. One after another, they fell before our combined might. Before I could reach the last one, it was felled by a warrior of diminutive stature who I had not noticed upon my arrival. Though it had some of the characteristitcs of less human creatures, it wielded a weapon as inimical to the devils as either of my blades and therefore must have been the agent of a great power of good, if it did not serve Amaterasu herself.

When he realized that his allies were nothing more than smoldering piles of sulfuric ash, the leader of the devils attempted to flee. His escape was blocked by the diminutive champion. They conversed in a language I could not understand, and for a moment it seemed that the evil warrior might lay down his weapon. He did not, however, and shortly struck down the tiny warrior. I, calling out challenges to him, charged alongside my one-time companion Zane to finish the battle. Though I have, for these past two years, sought to never take the life of a creature that I think could be redeemed, I do not regret my part in this man’s killing. When he turned to meet our charge in a futile attempt to reverse the fortunes of this battle, I saw in his eyes the devil-light that only a creature already claimed by Hell may bear. I doubt very much that his soul still resided in his body. All that was left was to purge the vessel of whatever fiend resided within it.

No sooner had he fallen than I found myself fading back to my study from the field of battle I’d been taken to. I gave Zane a salute with Kagenui, and she returned it with a katana I didn’t know she possessed. As I faded, I thought I saw the chain-man moving to my left, though I know this to be impossible unless the man fleeing the devils was a priest of incredible power. Though I regret that I could not stay and continue to do battle against fiendish forces in whatever place my friend was, I know that I have my own battles to fight and my own vigil to keep here in Ippo. I doubt not that we will meet again after she has prevailed over whatever challenges that other world holds for her.

Excerpt from the journal of Cyan Lightbringer, Imperial Champion and Devil Hunter

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Naya's Journal 2
Day Eight - Evening

So, tracking down Khleran wasn’t exactly an easy proposal. The bouncer at the brothel lied to us about his being at the temple of Tiamat, but she also lied about it to a really haughty piece of work from Sigil. If I’d been thinking about it, I should have given him Saamiyah’s room number. They would have gotten along well.

After some gently-applied force, the liar gave up the actual location of our target and Lewyth and I went to join Saamiyah and John at Burke’s pawn shop. We didn’t find them at first, so Lewyth went around the back and I went in to talk to Burke. He didn’t respond well to my innocent routine (why does no one believe me when I try to play innocent?), so I tried to kick my way into his back room. Around the time I managed to bounce myself through his door, he tried to get out the back and John knocked him out and tied him up. We found a trap door and went down, leaving a message in chalk for Esili so she could follow us, whenever she caught up.

We found a set of tunnels that seem to run all under the city, including one that leads outside the wall. We also found Khleran and his cronies, who weren’t as harmless or as dragonborn as they seemed at first. He had four barbazu! It was the kind of battle that was both terrifying and exhilarating, especially once I realized what we were fighting against. Hachiman guided my swords well, though we came close to losing John and Lewyth spent most of his time running interference (and in circles around the room). We had sent Saamiyah out to get help earlier, which was really a mistake. She’s full of herself, but she’s no slouch in a fight and we could have used her help. Esili eventually did show up, just in time to see a true blessing of Hachiman.

A true blessing. He couldn’t stay, though.

So, now it’s clean-up time. And then, out to meet the enemy. We will smite them where they stand!

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Day 8
Lunch to the Evening

I gathered my “allies” to the municipal housing. Arn Foehammer, (the Representatives of the Priests), Lewyth, Saamiyah, Viga Gorrin, Esili, Oswin (Captain of the Winterhold Guards), and Naya. I had not intended to invite Naya, but as she was with our party. I figured this best plan was to have her come along so she would be on the same page. I invited Oswin because I needed someone to take command of the guards after we routed the evil in the ranks. when every one arrived I told them about the intercepted assassination order aimed at Arn Foehammer. I then showed them written evidence of Finwick Iver’s involvement as an imperial spy. I told them I picked up the fist note as if to read another’s prayer, but this was of course the shallowest lie i could have told. Yes, the location of acquisition was the same as reality, the base of the Statue of Bahomit, but I could not tell them of my informant. I could not let her be discovered for fear of one of the present reporting to her to Iver. Oswin and Esili refused to even consider Iver as a spy. Saamiyah, Lewyth and Naya were willing to consider it with more evidence. Viga Gorrin did not side with one side or another, hopefully this means he has an open mind. Oswin refuted my evidence as meaningless and Esili claimed it could have just been a prayer. I realize I set myself up for that, but that is how it must remain. Arn offered to have his men look after Iver. the party accepted this offer. I entreated Oswin and Esili not to tip off Iver, I hope they don’t. We moved on to other business.
We now seem to be hunting down one criminal for another criminal. I admit secret access to the outside would be good, but consolidating the underworld in the possess does not seem good. Saamiyah and I were sent to the crafter’s district to speak with a weapon salesmen that our target had done bossiness with. with a little bit of flirting Saamiyah found out that our target had been their and that he bought a very expensive sword. Using the chain of a Nunchaku, I looked back to see our target, a very human Half-orc. He was buying a sword with an eye shaped gem in the handle. I also saw he was wearing very nice armor made from a somewhat familiar “animal” hide. Saamiyah and I took our information and returned to the municipal housing to meet with the others.


Matthew’s conceptualizations about the case thus far:
Kleran has had a windfall from the Temple of Tiamat. (Uncut gems are a very Draconic currency). Tiamat being a dragon goddess would likely have any of these in her coffers. They are possibly working with the empire to destabilize the city from inside. The sword and the Summoning Circle both indicate lower planer involvement. Though the Circle’s silver outline could be any lower plane, the eye gem on the sword suggest Baator or Carceri. As the funds are likely coming from Tiamat, and Tiamat makes her lair on the fist layer of Baator, then Baator seems the more likely choice. As to what was summoned, I don’t know. Given the nature of the sword it is probably a large humanoid fiend of a big Proxy of Tiamat or Set. As it has already been summoned it has to be a being that can blind in or that they can hide easily.
All of the lesser and least Baatazu are too weak to be of any use to the unrest of the city. An erinyes would be the only useful Lesser Baatezu, and it is possible that the false Charack was one of this kind. If a sufficient hide out was found than any of the greater Baatazu would be possible. Given the greater fiends’ gating powers, one that has been in the city for the last seven days could have a sizable army. The second to worst case scenario is that a Pit Fiend has been brought it. the fire damage to the Summoning Circle gives credence to this theory. The sword stands against this as pit fiends do not normally use swords. If the pit fiend was summoned, then most of us will likely die. The worst possible scenario is if a named Baatazu was called. If that is the case than we WILL all die. If it is however a Proxy of either god, then it will be much easier. The Proxy will be quite strong, but an organized attack will finish him. this is evidanced in that Lycom Ed Ese, son of Dio Med Ese, killed a proxy almost single-handedly at 5th lvl. regardless of the threat I expect our party to overcome the threat, as long as we stick together and stay sharp

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Naya's Journal
Day Eight

I hit the deck running today. Right off the ship and into the council chambers. General Charack’s message was received with confusion, since apparently they’ve had an imposter posing as the man for several months. There was also discussion with one of their council members—who is apparently a known criminal—about bringing in a member of the criminal underworld. Understandably, Captain Iver is greatly against this. I’m not 100% on the idea myself, even after the meeting with this character. He seems like he’s mostly just using us to further his own gains, but I can’t argue that he’s got access to something we need to protect the city: access to the outside in a clandestine manner.

This council is a weird group. And that’s saying something, considering the groups I’m used to working with. They’ve got a hot-headed genasi, a really tiny tiefling (who I’m totally okay with; I’m more likely to trust her than…pretty much anyone else), a known gang leader, a wizard and…oh, right, a freakin’ KYTON. I really don’t know who thought this was a good idea for maintaining the defense of the city, but I can’t see it ending terribly well. If they don’t trust me, I don’t blame them. The infighting in this group is epic and I’ll admit that I’m not helping much. I’m torn between trying to maintain order and some semblance of political balance and wanting to poke the genasi to see her puff up like a pretty little toad.

We decided to meet with Gorrin’s mob boss, Caerwyn. He’s a drow with understandably refined tastes. Everyone was expecting a trap, even me, but I figured that the best way to deal with someone unpredictable was to fall back on ceremony. I stuck to proper etiquette and he seemed to respond in kind. The wine wasn’t poisoned, but it was way too fruity for my tastes. I haven’t seen good sake since I was home last and, honestly, I kind of miss it. He seems like the kind of criminal who’s looking out for his own best interests, which definitely don’t include letting the Empire walk all over Shadow. I don’t trust him to be a good man, but I suspect he’ll be a man of his word, especially if we treat him with respect and fulfill our end of the bargain.

After our meeting with Caerwyn, we spent some time doing our own thing. I worked out for a while and noticed that Iver seems to be up to something. There was a lot of training happening there with a very specific group wearing a different shield sigil from the town watch. I wonder what’s going on and I have to admit that I’m a little bit worried. The infighting isn’t going to stop and he seems to be part of it.

We got back together later and split into groups to follow some leads on our new target, a man by the name of Kleran who seems to be trying to undermine Caerwyn’s authority. I teamed up with Gorrin, who basically just walked all over a locked door to speak with a drug dealer like it was nothing. He hadn’t seen Kleran recently, but said he’d been down to a nearby brothel in the company of one of their bouncers. We stopped by to talk with her (a tiefling with very notable horns) and she said the slug’s been to the temple of Tiamat. This is really not good. I want to get together with everyone else before we make a move on that place and compare notes on what the others found.

((Notes Adannaya wouldn’t know: Kleran’s been paying for everything in uncut gems and making a lot of high-ticket purchases, including brand new armor. There’s a lot of money coming from somewhere and it’s worth considering who he’s working for and why they don’t want their presence to be easily traceable. The Empire obviously can’t pay him in Imperial coinage, so uncut gems seem like a pretty good option. But what’s he been doing for them? And how will that affect the security of the city? It’s possible they already know about the tunnels we’re paying Kleran’s life to gain access to, which could be a problem when we go to use them.))

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Adannaya's Journal
Where I've been

Local Date: Day One

I love it here! It’s weird, like I’ve finally come home. The people in Shadow Proper have been so wonderful, welcoming and so intelligent. There is so much to learn here that I feel like I’ll never have enough time to explore. I’ve rented a room with a great view of the plaza and I’m hoping to make this a more permanent base. It’ll be nice to have somewhere that’s home.

There have been some troubling rumors in the markets, though, about the Empire coming here. These people have lived through enough war and death for lifetimes and are just starting to rebuild their own place. If I can help them keep their freedom and build some kind of peace, I’ll do anything I can.

Local Date: Day Seven

Finally, I am here. I’m glad I have some good news for the people hiding out here. The stream of refugees trying to escape New Sandrith is intimidating, but better to get them out than leave them for the Empire to squish. The Empire. HAH. These conquest-driven limpwits wouldn’t know a decently run empire if it taxed them. They may know how to bully a population, but they can’t foster the things that are important. They’re spreading themselves too thin and stepping on too many people to maintain their grip and that’s only going to get worse.

Especially if I have anything to say about it.

I need to coordinate with the defense forces. I know I can do some good here and I can hardly wait to get started. This is the kind of thing I live for.

Hachiman bless my swords!

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A Day of Prayer and a Day of Fighting
days 6 and 7

Day 6

I fear I may have caused harm where I meant none. I spent the whole day praying, fasting, and preaching. I reminded the people that Bahamut is with us, and that we were the force he would use to bring about victory over the Empire. Though I spent the day looking for an answer from Bahamut, I did not receive one. I think I now know why.

At some point in the afternoon, Friday came to me and asked if I would come with them to fight a remnant of the Talons of Tiamat. I told him to go and that I was spending the day in prayer. Perhaps by his unchanging will or directly because I did not go, Nazir died. I spent the whole day seeking a word from Behamut for myself and seem to have missed the words meant for me.

The man who killed Nazir (apparently his former commander) is being held by the city guard. I’ll have to remember to ask Captain Iver if he would like my help interrogating him.

Day 7

Nazir’s body disappeared last night. Friday fell asleep outside the temple and tells me that the body was not removed. Though being as he is such a deep sleeper, it might have happened.

Somehow the Empire got through the gazebo and took possession of the watch tower in the north. Sami landed on top of the tower and protected the bellmen while Friday, Gorrin, Tuuli, Lewyth, the Kyton and I went in the bottom. The forces were easily defeated save for the one who is not…called himself “The Thrice Risen.”

I feel I may be slipping into a leadership role; I’ll have to apologize to Sami.
I am still unsure about the Kyton but ….I am growing to understand him.
Gorrin is in it for himself, and once this is over I fear what will happen with him. Deputy Mayor Elspeth may trust him, but I am sure he is wrong to do so.

Tuuli defeated “The Thrice Risen” in a way I will never fully understand. I tapped into…. I am sure I will be punished for it.

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